Wittgenstein and Philosophy of Mind

This page is about works that discuss Wittgenstein's influence on the Philosophy of Mind (and cannot be accommodated in other pages).

Hutto, Daniel D., "Consciousness Demystified", The Monist, 78 (4) 1995: 464-78.
Downloadable from: http://perseus.herts.ac.uk/uhinfo/library/z94021_3.pdf
Brief Discussion
Hutto argues that Dennet's attempt to demystify consciousness would find severe criticism from a Wittgensteinian perspective; instead of basing his 'demystification' on 'new information' he should rather concentrate on the way psychological language operates.

Rudd, Anthony, 'What it's Like and What's Really Wrong With Physicalism; A Wittgensteinean Perspective' Journal of Consciousness Studies 1998 5:4, 454-63.
Brief Discussion
It is often argued that the existence of qualia - private mental objects - shows that physicalism is false. In this paper I argue that to think in terms of qualia is a misleading way to develop what is in itself a valid intuition about the inability of physicalism to do justice to our conscious experience. I consider arguments by Dennett and Wittgenstein that indicate what is wrong with the notion of qualia, but which, by so doing, also help us to locate the real problem for physicalism. This is not that there may be mental as well as physical objects of which we are aware, but that the very notion of awareness is itself resistent to physicalist treatment. In the concluding sections, I draw on Wittgenstein's positive account of sensations to suggest a way in which the apparent chasm separating objective and subjective viewpoints might be bridged in a non-reductive fashion.

Harré Rom, ‘Wittgenstein and artificial intelligence’. Philosophical Psychology 1/1 105 – 115. (2005).
Brief Discussion
From his abstract: ’Recent studies of Wittgenstein's later writing have made clear that they stand as a defence of two main ideas: that scepticism about the possibility of interpersonal discussions about our subjective feelings is misplaced and, as a seemingly startling corollary; that a mind state account of most 'mental activities' is incoherent. This leads to a great emphasis on skills and practices which, a fortiori, are definable only relationally, by reference to targets. In this paper I try to show that the 'computer' analogue for the mind f ails on both of Wittgenstein's dimensions. There are no physiognomic language games in the computer centre, while the 'target' aspect of skill and practice concepts ties them in to a wholly human world.'

Goldstein, Laurence, 'Philosophical Integrations', Language Sciences 26 (2004), pp.545-563.
Brief Discussion
The paper explains how the now fashionable ‘Integrationism’ in linguistics, introduced by Roy Harris and taken up by his disciples, is a pale and distorted imitation of Wittgenstein’s notion of the interweaving of language and action (PI, sect.7). Our understanding of malapropism is a phenomenon that cries out for explanation, and we here use this phenomenon as a test case to evaluate the plausibility not just of different versions of Integrationism but also of the ‘Language of Thought’ hypothesis and a rival Dynamical Systems approach to modelling the workings of the mind. The verdict: The Roy Harris version of Integrationism (which overlaps interestingly with some views of the philosopher Donald Davidson) is extravagant and implausible and does not cut the mustard. The ‘Language of Thought’ hypothesis is put under severe strain. The Dynamical Systems approach which incorporates the ‘Extended Mind’ hypothesis, sits comfortably with the plausible version of Integrationism that is found in the late writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Goldstein, Laurence, 'Wittgenstein, Semantics and Connectionism' (with B.H. Slater), Philosophical Investigations 21 (1998), pp.293-314.
Brief Discussion
(From his abstract)
We draw on resources from Wittgenstein's later work in pursuit of the (un-Wittgensteinian) project of defending a Connectionist conception of what a human being is like. The competing ‘Symbolic Paradigm’, still dominant in cognitive science, models our cognitive skills on the computer-processing of representations. The latter conception is shown to rest on a web of theories concerning truth, meaning and mind. We pick destructively at this web, revealing it to be constructed from a fragile Cartesian thread. The Symbolic Paradigms, we conclude, ignores the symbiotic relationship between minds, words and the social world; Connectionism makes the connection.

Wright, Crispin, 'Wittgenstein's Later Philosophy of Mind: Sensation, Privacy, and Intention', The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 86, No. 11, Eighty-Sixth Annual Meeting American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division (Nov., 1989), pp. 622-634.
Brief Discussion
Wright discusses the private language argument, paying special attention to Wittgenstein's first person epistemology.

Cockburn, David, 'Human Beings and Giant Squids', Philosophy 69 (1994), pp. 135 50
Brief discussion
Wittgenstein writes: '[O]nly of a living human being and what resembles (behaves like) a living human being can one say: it has sensations; it sees; is blind; hears; is deaf; is conscious or unconscious.' The remark has a key place in Wittgenstein’s criticism of pictures that involve the argument from analogy. Yet it does, at least on one natural reading, share something important with ways in which such pictures have been employed, by philosophers such as Peter Singer, in discussions of our relation to non-human species. This is the assumption that a human being provides our paradigm of a creature to which sensations and so on can be ascribed: that likeness to a human being is a condition on which such ascriptions are dependent. But there is no such condition. We cannot place limits in advance on the forms of behaviour in which we might be able to see pain, grief or fear. We might, with some justice, reverse Wittgenstein's remark, writing instead: 'Only of what has sensations; sees; is blind; hears; is deaf; is conscious or unconscious can one say that it is a living human being or resembles (behaves like) a living human being.'

Cockburn, David, 'Human beings and an "absolute conception"', in Neil Roughly (ed), Human Beings (Routledge, 2000), pp. 140-55
Brief discussion
It might be said that there are two fundamental ways in which the idea of a human being enters into Wittgenstein's later thought. On the one hand, he speaks of ways in which the human enters into our thinking; on the other, there is an emphasis on the way in which our thinking is a reflection of our humanity. The aim of this paper is to clarify the relationship between these two strands in Wittgenstein's thinking, and, in so doing, to question certain ways in which philosophers have spoken of ‘an absolute conception of the world’.

Keywords: human beings, absolutism, Williams, Nagel

Addis, Mark, Wittgenstein: Making Sense of Other Minds, Ashgate, 1999.
Book information: Hardback, 174 pages ISBN: 0-7546-1043-8
Brief Discussion
The book explores the issues raised by the immensely influential Wittgenstein and his inspired responses to the problems about other minds. These approaches are an attempt to apply Wittgenstein's concept of criteria in explaining how we can know other minds and their properties. Wittgenstein: Making Sense of Other Minds shows that the use of criteria for this purpose is misguided. Wittgenstein did not intend to advance the solution to difficulties about other minds which is usually attributed to him. His treatment of these problems
proceeded, not via the notion of criteria, but by means of an attack on the idea of a private language.

Addis, Mark, 'Wittgenstein's Private Language Argument and Self Consciousness', Sats- Nordic Journal of Philosophy 8:2 (2007) pp. 89-103. (Reprint in Analysis and Metaphysics 6 (2007), pp. 288-302.)
Brief Discussion
The private language argument in Wittgenstein has important implications for how self consciousness should be characterised. Some recent cognitivist theories claim that the self is really the sense of being a mental presence whilst the body is merely a container for these vital mental attributes. The cognitivist perspective emphasizes that mental states are internal to the mind thereby promoting the notion that the self is separate from the body. The private language argument is used to critique cognitivism through an
examination of the notion of privacy which this conception of mental states depends upon. The assumption that the mental is essentially private leads to the supposition that it is intelligible to attribute self consciousness to either minds or bodies. On Wittgenstein's view new theories of the self are not required but a grammatical investigation into the employment of 'self consciousness' and its cognates (including their psychological and neuroscientific uses) is.

Fischer, Eugen: Wittgenstein's Non-Cognitivism - Explained and Vindicated, Synthese vol. 162 (no.1), 2008, pp. 53-84
Abstract
The later Wittgenstein advanced a revolutionary but puzzling conception of how philosophy ought to be practised: Philosophical problems are not to be coped with by establishing substantive claims or devising explanations or theories. Instead, philosophical questions ought to be treated ‘like an illness’. Even though this ‘non-cognitivism’ about philosophy has become a focus of debate, the specifically ‘therapeutic’ aims and ‘non-theoretical’ methods constitutive of it remain ill understood. They are motivated by Wittgenstein’s view that the problems he addresses result from misinterpretation, driven by ‘urges to misunderstand’. The present paper clarifies this neglected concept and analyses how such ‘urges’ give rise to pseudo-problems of one particular, hitherto little understood, kind. This will reveal ‘therapeutic’ aims reasonable and ‘non-theoretical’ methods necessary, in one clearly delineated and important part of philosophy. I.e.: By developing a novel account of nature and genesis of one important class of philosophical problems, the paper explains and vindicates a revolutionary reorientation of philosophical work, at the level of both aims and methods.
More details: http://www.springerlink.com/content/txj3048x541103n7/
Keywords: Understanding, Reading, Philosophical Therapy, Philosophical Method, Pseudo-problems, Meta-philosophy, Non-cognitivism, Cognitive science and philosophy

Athanasopoulos, Constantinos, "The Metaphysics of the Intentionality of the Human Mind: A Study of Intentionality focused on Sartre's and Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Mind and Language", Ph.D. Thesis, Department of Philosophy, University of Glasgow, 1996.
Abstract
An examination of the views of J.-P. Sartre and Ludwig Wittgenstein on intentionality and a discussion of the use of these views in criticisms against reductionist accounts of the human mind and language, cognitivism, behaviourism, robotics, eliminative materialism. Topics discussed include Sartre's and Wittgenstein's critique of Husserl and Cartesianism, ontological theory of freedom and the mind, systemic theory and the theory of relations.

Athanasopoulos, Constantinos, book review of Meredith Williams’ book Wittgenstein, Mind and Language: Toward a Social Conception of Mind, in the International Journal of Philosophical Studies, Vol. 7 (3), pp.419-421.

Edwards, Jim, 'Following Rules, Grasping Concepts and feeling Pains' in European Journal of Philosophy, vol 1 no3, 1993, Basil Blacwell, pp. 268-284. ISBN 0966-8373

Moyal-Sharrock, Danièle (2009) 'Wittgenstein and the Memory Debate' in Ulrich Mueller & Tim Racine (Eds), New Ideas in Psychology Special Issue: Mind, Meaning and Language: Wittgenstein’s Relevance for Psychology 27 (2009), 213-27. Wittgenstein & the Memory Debate Link to on line paper:
<http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VD4-4SP49XS-1&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=981775967&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=11d8d4e78f8a2cf9cd1b613256cfe5d0>
Brief Discussion
This paper surveys the impact on neuropsychology of Wittgenstein's elucidations of memory. Wittgenstein discredited the storage and imprint models of memory, dissolved the conceptual link between memory and mental images or representations and, upholding the context-sensitivity of memory, made room for a family resemblance concept of memory, where remembering can also amount to doing or saying something. While neuropsychology is still generally under the spell of archival and physiological notions of memory, Wittgenstein's reconceptions can be seen at work in its leading-edge practitioners. However, neuroscientists, generally, are finding memory difficult to demarcate from other cognitive and noncognitive processes, and I suggest this is largely due to their considering automatic responses as part of memory, termed nondeclarative or implicit memory. Taking my lead from Wittgenstein's On Certainty, I argue that there is only remembering where there is also some kind of mnemonic effort or attention, and, therefore, that so-called implicit memory is not memory at all, but a basic, noncognitive certainty.

Stern, David G., Wittgenstein on Mind and Language, OUP USA, 238 pages | line figures | 234x156mm, ISBN: 978-0-19-508000-1 | Hardback | 23 March 1995; OUP USA, 238 pages | 234x156mm, ISBN: 978-0-19-511147-7 | Paperback | 13 March 1997
Book abstract:
Drawing on ten years of research on the unpublished Wittgenstein papers, David Stern investigates Wittgenstein's early conception of the nature of representation and how his later revision and criticism of that work led to a radically different way of looking at mind and language. The book casts important new light on the Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations, and traces the development of a number of central themes in Wittgenstein's philosophy, including his conception of philosophical method, logical atomism and the picture theory of meaning, the nature of representation and the limits of language, the application of language to experience, his treatment of practice and private language, and what he called the "flow of life". It also explains how the unpublished manuscripts and typescripts were put together and why they often provide better evidence of the development of his ideas than can be found in his published writing. Arguing that Wittgenstein's views are often much more simple (and more radical) than we have been led to believe, Wittgenstein on Mind and Language provides an overview of the development of Wittgenstein's thought and brings to light aspects of his philosophy that have been almost universally neglected.
Book keywords: Wittgenstein, mind, language, logical atomism, meaning, method, representation, experience, practice, picture theory, Tractatus, Philosophical Investigations,
Abstracts of Chapters:
Chapter 1: Introduction. Abstract: Unlike most books on Wittgenstein,Wittgenstein on Mind and Language begins from the initial articulation of his thoughts in his first drafts, conversations and lectures and attends closely to the process of revision that led to the Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations. This introductory chapter provides information about the nature of the Wittgenstein papers, summarizes the rationale for reading his work in this way, and outlines the reading of the development of Wittgenstein's philosophy that this approach yields. This initial discussion of the development of Wittgenstein’s thought emphasizes the role of his changing conception of the nature of experience and its relationship to the world, the closely related problem of the relationship between ordinary language and its analysis, his later conception of the role of analogies in generating—and dissolving—philosophical problems, the parallels with psychoanalysis, and the variety of philosophical methods employed in his later philosophical writing. There is also an overview of a central theme of the book as a whole: the contrast Wittgenstein drew between “ordinary” and “philosophical” ways of looking at things when he wrote the Tractatus, and how that contrast was transformed in his subsequent writing, focussing on his contrast between “primary” and “secondary” worlds and his notion of a “phenomenological language.” Keywords: Wittgenstein, Tractatus, Philosophical Investigations, experience, language, psychoanalysis, phenomenological language, Wittgenstein papers, philosophical method, analysis,
Chapter 2: Logic and Language. Abstract: An analysis of the sources of Wittgenstein’s picture theory, which include not only Wittgenstein’s moment of insight on reading a magazine story about the use of models in a traffic court, but also the work of Russell, Hertz, and Boltzmann, provides the basis for an exploration of Wittgenstein’s articulation of a pictorial conception of representation in his wartime notebooks and its crystallization in the Tractatus. A discussion of Wittgenstein’s later criticism of the picture theory and his notion of a “philosophical picture” illustrates the fundamental reversal in his transition to his later conception of philosophy: instead of taking literal pictures as a guide to the nature of meaning, he came to regard philosophical theories as akin to expressing an aesthetic preference for a certain style of representation. Wittgenstein’s treatment of factual language in the picture theory is related to his Tractarian approach to logical form, and the role of the show/say distinction in his early conception of logic and language. Particular attention is given to the difficulties generated by the idea that the conditions for the possibility of a given domain of discourse cannot be described in language, but must be shown by the form of words in question. Keywords: Wittgenstein, Russell,Tractatus, picture theory, grammar, logical form, show/say distinction.
Chapter 3: Subject and Object. Abstract: The first three sections of this chapter argues that the ontology of the Tractatus, set out in its opening propositions, is best understood, not as the foundation on which it is built, but rather as the consequence of Wittgenstein’s conception of logic and representation in general, and the postulate of the determinacy of sense in particular. Once we recognize that Wittgenstein arrived at the idea of simple objects on the basis of an abstract argument about the nature of complexes and of analysis, without providing any specific examples of such analyses, it is easy to see the need for caution in attributing any characteristics to the objects over and above those demanded by Wittgenstein’s logicolinguistic commitments. Commentators have taken the Tractatus to be setting out a bewildering variety of highly specific views about the nature of objects, but the truth is that the book is so programmatic that its ontology can be elaborated in any number of ways. The final section analyzes Wittgenstein’s treatment of the self in the Tractatus and his writing from the 1930s, as a central example of the extreme tensions between the positivisistic doctrines stated in the Tractatus and the antipositivistic subtext that it aims to convey, or “show”: if the exoteric doctrine of the Tractatus is that there is no such thing as the subject of experience, the esoteric doctrine is that there is. This leads to a close reading of his proposal in the early 1930s that we consider a “subjectless” language as a way of clarifying the nature of experience, and his subsequent critique of the notions of the “metaphysical self” and the “visual world”: he had transmuted the difference between the first person and third person modes of speech into differences between two worlds and then had tried to put them back together again. Keywords: Wittgenstein, Tractatus, objects, ontology, sense, determinacy, logic, simples, subject, self
Chapter 4: From Logical Atomism to Practical Holism. Abstract: This chapter analyzes the developments that led from Wittgenstein's early logical atomist view that all meaningful discourse can be analyzed into logically independent elementary propositions to his later philosophy. In 1929, Wittgenstein rejected logical atomism for a “logical holist” conception of language as composed of calculi, formal systems characterized by their constitutive rules. But by the mid-1930's he rejected the model of a calculus, emphasizing that language is action within a social and natural context, more like a game than a calculus, and that rule-governed behaviour is dependent on a background of practices which cannot themselves be explicitly formulated as rules. The discussion of these central developments for the emergence of his later “practical holism” focusses on changes in his conception of the nature of measurement and the role of mind and mental processes in linguistic meaning. Keywords: Wittgenstein, logical atomism, practice, rules, calculus, holism, mind, meaning, language
Chapter 5: The Description of Immediate Experience. Abstract: The first section of this chapter is a close reading of Wittgenstein’s “Remarks on Logical Form,” written in early 1929, focussing on the conception of the relationship between language and experience, and the nature of the analysis of immediate experience, that are set out there. Section two sets out my interpretation of what Wittgenstein meant when he said, in October 1929, that he had rejected “phenomenological language” or “primary language” as his goal; distinguishing between a weak and a strong sense of these terms enables us to see how he could have given up the goal of formulating a language that would amount to a complete analysis of immediate experience, yet retain the goal of finding ways of clarifying what we say about experience. Section three is a detailed discussion of Wittgenstein’s use of the analogy of the pictures on a roll of film in a movie projector and the pictures on a cinema screen for the relationship between world and experience, an analogy he returned to throughout his career. The final section analyzes how and why the analogy leads Wittgenstein to a paradoxical conception of immediate experience as a separate realm, “timeless” and “neighbourless”, a conception of the “world as idea” that is supposedly inexpressible. Keywords: Wittgenstein, experience, phenomenological language, primary language, analysis, logical form, world as idea,
Chapter 6: The Flow of Life. Abstract: In 1929, Wittgenstein made use of river imagery to convey the supposedly inexpressible thesis that all is in flux ("Alles fliesst"). But in manuscripts from the early 1930s and drafts of the Philosophical Investigations, he rejects this extreme thesis, affirming that one can step twice into the same river, while his later discussion of the “stream of life” involves a return, in certain respects, to the river analogy, albeit in a very different key; examining Wittgenstein’s changing use of this image casts light on the continuities and discontinuities in the development of his philosophy. Wittgenstein's argument that a private definition is impossible because ostension always depends on a "technique of use," and his rejection of a positive theory of mind, is clarified by examining some unusually explicit notes for a public lecture on private language. This material helps us to see how the treatment of training and practice in the opening sections of the Philosophical Investigations is the basis for the subsequent discussion of both rule-following and privacy. Keywords: Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, experience, privacy, flux, river image, practice, training

Bavidge, M., Ground, I. 1994. Can We Understand Animal Minds? London: Bristol Classical Press.
Brief Discussion
What can we claim to know and what do we mean when we talk about non-human animals? This book is directed at the assumptions that underlie our thought about and discussion of animals. It confronts fascinating dilemmas about knowledge and meaning in relation to animalsother than ourselves. Current theories of mind are too often limited to humankind, The authors demonstrate the limitations of these traditional approaches, providing instead a solid foundation for interactive techniques in animal studies. They examine reasons for our reluctance to attribute psychological states and capacities to animals, and focus on the expressive life of animals. This approach allows for the removal of obstacles that stand in the way of a proper sensitivity to the world as shared.
The main conclusions are as follows:
1. Traditional denials of the possibility of animal minds or, if they do have minds, of the possibility of understanding them, are motivated by persistent and undisclosed assumptions in the psychological sciences about the nature of minded creatures, including ourselves. These assumptions can be jointly described as a dualism of mind and behaviour. These assumptions and the denials that rest upon them are dissipated by an application of Wittgenstein's work on mind.
2. Wittgenstein's work enables a positive account of the primacy of expression in the relationships between living beings. This provides a foundation for the science of cognitive ethology and its emphasis on the close study of animals, recognised as minded beings, in their natural environments.
3. Cognitive ethology faces a further objection, based on the fact that we alone are language-using creatures. This challenge can be met through a correct understanding of Wittgenstein's thought on the nature of meaning.
Details at http://www.abebooks.com/products/isbn/9780312124243/

Campbell, Michael & O'Sullivan, Michael (eds.) Wittgenstein and Perception, Routledge (2015).
Abstract: Throughout his career, Wittgenstein was preoccupied with issues in the philosophy of perception. Despite this, little attention has been paid to this aspect of Wittgenstein's work. This volume redresses this lack, by bringing together an international group of leading philosophers to focus on the impact of Wittgenstein's work on the philosophy of perception. The ten specially commissioned chapters draw on the complete range of Wittgenstein's writings, from his earliest to latest extant works, and combine both exegetical approaches with engagements with contemporary philosophy of mind. Topics covered include: perception and judgement in the Tractatus; aspect-perception; the putative intentionality of perception; and representationalism. The book also includes an overview which summarises the evolution of Wittgenstein's views on perception throughout his life. With an outstanding array of contributors, Wittgenstein and Perception is essential reading for students and scholars of Wittgenstein’s work, as well as those working in philosophy of mind and philosophy of perception. Contributors: Yasuhiro Arahata, Michael Campbell, William Child, Daniel Hutto, Michael O’Sullivan, Marie McGinn, Michel terHark, Charles Travis, and José Zalabardo. Contents: Introduction Michael Campbell and Michael O'Sullivan 1. Wittgenstein on Perception: an Overview Michael Campbell and Michael O'Sullivan 2. Two Senses of ‘See’ Marie McGinn 3. Suffering Intentionally? Charles Travis 4. Contentless Perceiving: The Very Idea Dan Hutto 5. Wittgenstein, Phenomenal Concepts, and What It’s Like William Child 6. Seeing and Not-seeing as Ways of Inhabiting the World Yasuhiro Arahata 7. Wittgenstein’s Nonsense Objection José Zalabardo 8. Judgement and Aspect Michael O'Sullivan 9. Aspect perception in the Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations Michel terHark. Index.
Routledge site presentation of the book: https://www.routledge.com/products/9781138829374

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License